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Peter King Supported IRA Acts of Terrorism Before Scapegoating Muslims

Peter King’s Islamic radicalization hearings single out a particular community and a particular type of extremist activity for examination. Other terrorist actions will not get the same scrutiny, particularly the actions that King wholeheartedly supported in the recent past.

For Representative Peter T. King, as he seizes the national spotlight this week with a hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims, it is the most awkward of résumé entries. Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.

“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry,” Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.” […]

Mr. King, son of a New York City police officer and grand-nephew of an I.R.A. member, offers no apologies for his past, which he has celebrated in novels that feature a Irish-American congressman with I.R.A. ties who bears a striking resemblance to the author.

Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: “I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States.”

I don’t know what’s better, the juicy rationalization about the IRA never attacking the United States or the fact that King wrote a bunch of thinly-disguised novels about himself.

I don’t want to get into an argument about legitimate resistance and the IRA. That’s not the point here. Loyalists of whatever cause can make plenty of arguments about legitimate uses of violence. But the same people who make those justifications should not then hold hearings singling out particular communities and associating violence with them. It’s just bad form.

When you have to pick and choose between certain types of terrorism and which civilians should be acceptably murdered, you’ve kind of lost your authority over the issue.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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